The ability to transport patients to hospital by air comes into sharp focus when the patient needs critical care treatment in a specialist centre and that centre is hours away by road from the incident location. For some patients, the combination of critical care delivery and transport by air is essential for their survival.

Examples of the life-saving difference this can make  are: the time-critical inter-hospital transport of a child needing emergency brain surgery; the successful resuscitation of a patient located down a remote 100-foot cliff being transported directly to a specialist centre for ongoing advanced invasive life support; or the provision of critical care to patients with severe brain injury, needing direct transport to a regional trauma centre, bypassing closer, less specialist hospitals in the process.

These integrated NHS care pathways have only been possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the substantial collaborative effort that led to changes in guidance from PHE on the carriage of critical care patients by air. Through our support of these pathways, all components of the chain of survival have been present for these patients day and night, throughout the pandemic.

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